The Redskins made a big move on Tuesday, acquiring safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix from the Packers in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
For the 5-2 Washington defense, the trade should bolster a good defense into a great one. It also means some movement in the secondary.
D.J. Swearinger is playing like the best safety in the NFL, and the metrics from Pro Football Focus support that. Swearinger’s role will not change with the acquisition of Clinton-Dix.
The role that looks in flux will be second-year pro Montae Nicholson.
The Redskins did not trade for Clinton-Dix to not start him, and that means Nicholson will see his snaps decrease. He took over the starter role last season as a rookie, but has not played as well in 2018.
Reports suggest Nicholson might be dealing with slight injuries, but regardless, going after Clinton-Dix represents an upgrade.
Nicholson has played 440 snaps for the Redskins defense, tied for second most behind only Swearinger at 445. Clinton-Dix will cut into that, likely right away.
There have been a few situations where the Redskins play three safeties on the field at once, and that third safety spot has belonged to Deshazor Everett. Assuming Nicholson stays healthy enough for an active roster spot, he would likely take over that limited role from Everett.
Everett’s larger role is a special teams ace, and that won’t change.
Don’t forget either that Washington moved rookie safety Troy Apke to the injured reserve on Monday. That leaves another roster spot for Kenny Ladler, who had likely been the last safety on the roster.
Going forward, at least immediately, the safety depth chart should look like:
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
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